Living and Loving Davidson: Scholarship Opens New Doors

Bobby '93 and Sandy Bowers
Bobby ’93 and Sandy Bowers
“The town takes care of the college, and the college takes care of the town.”

That’s how Sandy Bowers, owner of women’s boutiques MINE by sandy and MINE (the smaller shop) by sandy, views Davidson. It is because of close connections on and off campus and the college experience of her husband, Bobby Bowers ’93, that the couple chooses to live in Davidson and generously support Davidson students through the McGowan-Bowers Family Scholarship, named for the couple’s parents. Bobby is a partner with Moore & Van Allen.

The first recipients of the scholarship are Chris Brooks, from Westminster, Maryland, and Erica Miller, from Crouse, North Carolina, both seniors. The scholarship support helped them decide on Davidson.

Chris Brooks ’19

Erica Miller '19 and Chris Brooks '19
Erica Miller ’19 and Chris Brooks ’19
Most “decent students” from Chris Brooks’ high school choose to attend the University of Maryland—close to home and affordable—but a mailer from Davidson got him thinking differently. It started with an interest in the community, weather and overall academics. A personal meeting with Political Science Professor Ken Menkhaus during a visit for admitted students convinced Brooks that this was the place for him.

Brooks studied abroad in Copenhagen and has built relationships on campus through his work in residence life and as a Flickerball coach.

“I came from a rural town, and Davidson has helped me broaden my perspective and exposed me to new ways of thinking … critical thinking,” he said. “I was in an education policy class, and we were talking about underprivileged students and getting into college. Some of my classmates were saying they were from places where college counselors only met with them once or twice. We didn’t even have that—I had no idea what that was. The world just isn’t how I’ve seen it from my past experiences.”

Brooks’ dad, a college graduate but self-described “slacker,” said he’s jealous of what his son has accomplished at Davidson and at such a young age.

Looking ahead, Brooks is applying to graduate school to earn a doctorate in public policy or K-12 educational policy.

Erica Miller ’19

After a life-threatening auto-immune disease forced her to step away from track and field, and nearly every activity she enjoyed, Erica Miller re-evaluated her post-high school plans.

“College isn’t really something we talked about in my town, and many of those who did go stayed close to home to attend community college,” she said. “But I needed college as a goal.”

Miller underwent a medical trial with a 30 percent success rate — she was among the 30 percent. During that difficult period in her life, she discovered a love of photography that opened unexpected doors. “I walked into a modeling agency because they had hired me as a photographer, and they asked if I would be interested in modeling,” she said. “I left with a contract.”

Since that time, the political science major has modeled in fashion shows around the world, including Paris and New York.

While modeling has presented incredible opportunities for Miller, she is focused on a career in law. She has applied to several top law schools, and she hopes to focus on patent and start-up law, inspired by Davidson friends who started their own business. The business partners had trouble finding representation because of the risks associated with a new company, and Miller plans to fill that void for other entrepreneurs and innovators. She is still considering her initial interest in first amendment advocacy, as well.

Scholarships combined with additional financial aid quickly made Davidson Miller’s top choice, where she is president of Connor Eating House and works 25 hours each week as a nanny for a family in Huntersville.

“My family has a ton of medical debt, and if the college had not taken everything into consideration, there is no way I could have come here,” she said. “I needed to stay close to home, given my medical history, but I knew I wanted to branch out. I love the trust that exists at Davidson between professors and students.”

Unique Community

Bobby Bowers, a history major and Ken Kelley Scholar, said Davidson provided exactly what he needed from college.

“I think I would have gotten lost and not thrived had I gone to a large university, instead of Davidson,” he said. “It’s been great being back in town the last 16 years. We would not want to live anywhere else.”

Bobby has been a dedicated alumnus, having served as a Chidsey program mentor, National Ne Ultra Chair, Reunion Co-Chair and Annual Fund volunteer and currently serving on the Alumni Association Board. He treasures the sense of community at Davidson most of all.

“Sandy’s father and Coach McKillop are both from Queens,” he said. “At a men’s basketball game one time, I wrote to Bob and asked if he had time to chat. Coach wrote back in 10 minutes and said, ‘Sure, where are you sitting?’ It meant a lot, and you don’t find these things just everywhere.”

Sandy, who received her B.N./R.S.N. from UNC Greensboro’s nursing school, her first career, has employed both current students and alumni during her boutiques’ 10+ years in business. She said she “gets depressed” when college lets out for the summer.

“The energy and pulse of the entire town changes when they leave,” she said. “When I work with the students in my store, I’m able to watch their confidence levels grow from freshman year to senior year, and some decide to go into merchandising and other fashion-related fields. To know we had a role in that is pretty amazing.”

Outside of their boutiques, the Bowers will continue to have a role in the growth of many Davidson students through their scholarship and other efforts in support of the college, too.

Danielle Strickland dastrickland@davidson.edu